The 2011 Nostalgia Convention
by Mark J. Gross.
The incredible classic and unique Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, or MANC as it is called, landed back in Baltimore for 2011, and what a show it was indeed! However, you are not allowed to call it MANC, unless you have attended!
The entire volunteer staff have a passion to take our love of nostalgic television, and films, actors and actresses, science fiction, artists, dealers, collectors, autograph seekers, fans from here and out of this realm as well, and allows us to meet celebrities of yesteryear, and chat with them, snap photos, and get that hand singed autograph. Martin Grams, one of the volunteers, has penned many books in this genre, and is a fine published author in this area. So many of us enjoy meeting and reacquainting with fellow genre attendees and nostalgia buffs of all ages races, and various home worlds!
Conversations of the most sublime and true to a classic yet upbeat rhythm, as only we at this “Con” can understand and talk about those glorious TV shows from the late 50’s to yesterday’s gone by. And, yet with all this……. you still have the guest star celebrities there to get up close and converse with, after all these years. Too cool, gee wizzzz, and golly, I can’t wait to get their autograph!!!!
These guests I am about to list for your viewing pleasure, you are sure to remember, and to get a chance to actually meet them, too cool! I mean, far out.
This September the convention featured, Patty Duke, Tony Dow, Davy Jones, Michael Constantine, Billy Gray, Lauren Chapin, Jimmy Hunt, Charles Herbert, Ed Nelson, Jim Rosin, Mark Redfield, Conrad Brooks, Larry Storch and Karen Valentine! Incredible line up, I know!! Shout! Factory DVDs
These guests had so many fans at their signing tables to chat as we remember their roles they portrayed. Yes yes, these guest stars also signed tons of autographs. For a reasonable fee, you could talk and then have an item that a guest was selling on their table or bring some collectable you owned to be hand signed in person by them, and snap a photo of you standing with them to show off your new autographed item!
All guests were asking about the same fee, however, Davy Jones on the other hand signed for FREE, if you brought your own item, and charged a nominal fee if you purchased one at his table! I was lucky myself to be one of the photographers for this event, and I snapped some really cool photos, of fans, guest stars, dealers, and all around fan fun! Plus I was able to have a dealers table and shared this space selling some of my own collectables with my buddy Marty who was selling some great full size movie posters and more. I offered a diverse variety of stuff, like Star Trek collector plates, models, nostalgic toys, autographs and more.
Other dealers were selling so many nostalgia items and collectables, such as rare and unique classic films and TV shows on DVD, toys, photo’s, posters, classic magazines and books, and any almost anything you could think of in this realm.
There was an awesome display put out at a huge table of Buck Rogers items by a group called The Solar Guard Fan Club and The Radio and Television Museum of Baltimore. There were Buck Rogers memorabilia out to see such as some early Pulp magazines to ray guns to advertising artifacts pages from the 1930’s comic book and much more. Glad this display was encased, it would not be good to have anyone grab that Buck Rogers ray gun and start shooting, and no one really wants to clean up after the room is sprayed with lethal reddish emissions with its lighting effects and laser beam spread all over everything. Flash Gordon
Also here at this show is a group called Radio Once More, which broadcasts the best in old time radio and nostalgia via the internet and pod casting. The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Con also promotes such groups as the National Capital Radio and Television Museum in Bowie, Maryland, The Metro Washington Old Time Radio Club, The Theatre Preservation Society, and more.
Often times at this incredible convention, you see many like-minded old friends and fellow fans. Every year at this show I see a family of six, a father, mother and four kids ages 17 down to 8 that come all the way from Vancouver, Canada to attend and meet the guest stars and filter throughout the weekend’s events. They attend all the guest stars stage talks, visit them at their booth to chat and purchase their hand signed autographs and revel in this fun filled arena. This family is starting their young ones early into appreciating the art of meeting TV and film icons, and collecting that hand signed item. What a great investment as well, there is part of that college fund.
I actually bonded with one of the weekend’s guests, one Davy Jones from The Monkees. I helped him and his assistant Johnny Blair, musician himself and singer at large, with various things. I also helped Davy and Johnny load up their car when they left and Davy Jones wrote down his address and cell number for me to stay in touch! During the 2 days David Jones was there, he wound up doodling on the table cloth that covered his signing table, and it was quite a wild looking doodle and he actually signed his name through the center of it. Well, this is quite a rare work of art to have a guest doodle a huge square box and within it draw things that I assume were a flower on a stem, two heads, and one looked like a rabbit and a weird looking triangle shape with some science fictional type of doodle in that, and then Davy did some swirly squiggly lines all over the boxes’ border.
Well, at the time where Davy was packing up to leave, I asked him if he were going to take the table cloth off the table and keep his large doodle he created throughout his two days there, and he said not at all. Many other fans were eyeballing this too, so as a huge collector, seeing this hand drawn doodle done by Davy Jones of The Monkees on a table cloth covering his autograph table, I did what any good collector of a rare find like this would do, and I took out a pocket knife, and whipped it open and cut out the entire diagramed doodle and asked Davy to hold it up in front of him where I snapped a photo of that scene with my camera. Many other fans approached me and said they were really hoping to keep that prized tablecloth, but you have to be very fast and I was! Yet another fascinating hand drawn and signed item to add to my own personal collection!
I actually took well over 1,000 photographs of convention happenings throughout these grand three days. Even the guests really wanted to pose with the other fellow guests, and I was happy to oblige them.
The guest stars here really gave some great trivia and stories at their stage talk panels. The room was filled with fans while every group of guests that was at their own particular panel talk shared some incredible stories!
I will feature some excerpts from my one on one celebrity interviews I received at this show soon, as these guest stars shared some incredibly fascinating info with me! I will say that Davy Jones told me he loved being in the play The Artful Dodger recently, while Billy Gray showed me and talked about one of quite a few inventions, such as a new unique guitar pic he had created. Tony Dow tells me he is very comfy being behind the scenes and the camera in a more creative mode. Jimmy Hunt said to me how much it amazes him when fans show him photos and other collectables with him in them that he did not know existed.
Charles Herbert admitted he was a bit scared when he saw the monster from his film Colossus of New York. KarenValentine and Michael Constantine chatted about their working together on Room 222, and more individual remembrances of their early careers. Patty Duke had a TV set with some of her classic TV and films running in front of her booth and often times walked out from behind her signing table to watch some scenes as she told me a few interesting tid bits from each one being shown. It is so fun for me to be able to interview these iconic stars; you never know what they may offer up to hear.
At the end of all the outstanding times shared at this convention by guest stars, staff, fans, media, dealers, and everyone able to attend, the convention puts on a buffet dinner banquet, for fans with guest stars at each table!
Fans and guests got to relax and let their hair down to chat and eat a great catered meal. Then there was some on stage fun with the celebrities and a few appreciation awards for the guest stars as well. Room 222 DVD
All in all this particular convention boasts some awesome and classic genre celebrities we all get to meet and also acquire their signatures, first hand as it were. We share a ton of fun and reminiscing with fellow fans while we spend the weekend away from the outside world and get to enjoy this world of nostalgia!
Be sure to prepare for next years Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Con, and I look forward to seeing you all there interacting with fellow fans and dabbling in conversations with those awesome television and film stars we all remember from yesteryear! Until then, Hi-Ho Silver, and Up, Up and awaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy. OK, had to get those in, ha ha. The Lone Ranger
Davy Jones from The Monkees also asked me to snap a pic with other guest star Patty Duke! Also after interviewing Billy Gray, he signed an item I took with me from The Day the Earth Stood Still signed a few months earlier by late actress Patricia Neal for me! Now both signatures on one item. Too cool. All guests signed quite a few items for me and I was most grateful. The Monkees TV Show DVD
This is just one darn good show! You must come out this year for the adventure and you will be glad you did. FOTR.net, imdb.com
Make sure you get some Bazooka gum, wear your bell bottoms, keep your Slinky and Etch a Sketch home, and come be a part of this incredible blast from the past convention! Fanex Convention
Ok, don’t wear any bell bottoms, see you there!
Chiller Theater Convention New Jersey, Chiller Theatre Convention
Administrator Comment: Mark J. Gross is the official convention photographer. His volunteer service is appreciated, as well as the photos he takes. We do, however, encourage everyone who attended in past years to submit their own photos. The more the merrier!